The Planning Commission has sought a bigger role in farming policies that involve awarding of oil and gas blocks and has also written to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry, asking it to hold wider inter-Ministerial consultations before finalising any policy relating to the hydrocarbon industry.

The Planning Commission has, in the past, expressed its resentment over the failure of the Petroleum Ministry to include the planning body in the Empowered Committee of Secretaries (ECS). It had impressed upon the need to be part of the ECS mechanism, which it said, has a major role in deciding the matters related to the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). In a letter to Petroleum Secretary Vivek Rae, Secretary of the Planning Commission Sindhushree Khullar has stated that Planning Commission does not get an opportunity to offer its comments through the ECS mechanism. “We have to present our views on the ‘final note’ of CCEA at the meeting through the Deputy Chairman. You will agree that consultations at the stage of ECS/DCN would enrich the content of the policy,” Ms. Khullar said in the letter.

The letter also states that issues regarding NELP contracts have technical contractual and financial implications, which ought to be deliberated with related Ministries before the Cabinet proposals are firmed up. “We notice that several proposals are being recommended directly for consideration of the Cabinet without any consultation at the level of ECS. You may like to consider holding detailed deliberations at the official level before posing policy issues for consideration of the Cabinet/CCEA,” the letter concludes.